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What to do if you are worried about a child

Childcare providers may be the first people to notice possible signs of abuse and neglect so it is important that all providers feel confident in knowing what to look out for and what to do if they have concerns.

In an emergency take action to obtain urgent medical attention for the child, if required, call 999

Seeking consent: 

  • concerns should be discussed with the parent and agreement sought for a referral to Single Point of Access (SPA) unless the child has been harmed or it puts the child at risk of significant harm 
  • if you decide NOT to discuss your concerns with the child’s parents YOU MUST record this and the reason why you made that judgement
  • operate on a need to know basis – do not discuss with friends or family

Actions to take if concerned about a child:

  • stop other activity, responding to a suspicion of abuse takes immediate priority
  • report any concerns you have to the designated safeguarding and child protection lead or deputy immediately, or most senior person if not available
  • refer to SPA directly if you feel the matter has not been dealt with satisfactorily, or in an appropriate or timely fashion within the setting
  • childminders would share concerns directly with SPA
  • refer to the safeguarding processes flowchart
  • report concerns to the SPA team or out of hours Emergency Duty Team if there is any reason to believe that a child is subject to physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect
  • record who you spoke to, any advice given and actions taken
  • use referral forms available online
  • ask the parent or carer about what has been observed, so long as it does not put the child at increased risk (see Seeking consent, p22)
  • record if it is decided not to discuss concerns with the child’s parents and the reason why the judgement was made
  • record exactly what has been heard or seen, what has been said, and was done
  • use a body map to record injuries, but do not take photographs
  • keep the notes taken at the time, without amendments, omissions or addition, even though subsequent reports may be written (date and sign each page)
  • operate on a need-to-know basis only, do not discuss the issue with colleagues, friends or family

Actions to take if a child discloses abuse

  • ensure the immediate safety of the child
  • stop other activity and focus on what the child is saying, responding to a suspicion of abuse takes immediate priority
  • seek any necessary medical treatment without delay
  • stay calm and do not express shock or disbelief
  • listen carefully to what is being said, allow the child to continue at their own pace
  • ensure questions are absolutely minimal and completely open, for example ‘How did that happen?’
  • repeat back to the child (as accurately as possible) what was heard, to check understanding of what the child has said
  • tell the child they are not to blame, it’s not their fault and they have done the right thing in telling someone
  • not promise to keep secrets - find an appropriate early opportunity to explain it will be necessary to tell someone else in order to help them and keep them safe
  • ask the child if they have told anyone else
  • tell the child what will happen next and with whom the information will be shared
  • inform the designated safeguarding lead or senior manager as soon as possible
  • ask the parent or carer about what has been disclosed, so long as it does not put the child at increased risk (see Seeking consent)
  • record in writing what was said, as soon as possible, using the child’s own words
  • note the date, time and names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that all records are signed and dated
  • note anything the parent or carer says
  • follow the setting’s child protection procedures and contact SPA
 Single Point of Access

Single Point of Access (SPA) Kingston and Richmond SPA acts as a central hub and front door for Children Services. Anyone who has concerns around children and families can refer in to SPA where information is collated and decisions are made within 24 hours.

Contact SPA if you have concerns about:

  • A child or young person who you suspect is being neglected or subject to physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Family issues that are affecting a child or young person
  • An allegation of abuse against an adult

 SPA offers phone consultation with a social worker to professionals and will provide advice and support in managing concerns.

SPA Contact Details:

Phone: 020 8547 5008 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)

Out of hours 020 8770 5000 

Online: referral

For children living Out of Borough - contact social care in the borough the child lives in.

We have an incident form to act as a prompt to ensure you record all relevant information, the date and time you spoke to other agencies, what they recommended etc.

In addition to the form used when you talk to SPA you also need to have pre-existing injury sheets and accident books.

Registered providers must inform Ofsted of these allegations as soon as reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made.  

Always contact your Inclusion and Improvement Advisor if you have made a SPA referral.